I have to admit, sometimes I’m just an awkward dude.
It comes to mind when I am talking to people, and again I realize I’ve said something highly inappropriate to the context. Of course, I never think of these things in advance, only after people start looking at me in the way I’ve since learned is “quizzically”. Unfortunately, by that time, it’s already too late, and if the person doesn’t know I’m a generally awkward dude, I’ve got some explaining/apologizing to do. If they do know me, I’ve provided them some additional amusement, and hopefully they will forgive me.
…and sometimes I don’t even realize I’ve done it.
The simple fact is, I’ve always been terrible at reading social and emotional cues. It means that in large measure, other people’s emotions are a closed book to me, and I am usually saying and doing things that sometimes hurt others. It’s not my favourite part of myself, and it’s something I work on a lot, but still I often fail and say something really really inappropriate.
This is probably one of the reasons I prefer my own company, and also one of the reasons I live in my own head a lot. It also means I can make horrific first impressions on people, since I don’t often have a governor. Worse, the ignorance of cues extends to my own actions. Facial expressions mean little to me, so I don’t produce facial expressions in keeping with what I’m actually thinking (and since I live in my head, I’m thinking a few hundred different things at any given time). In essence, I don’t read people well, and they don’t read me well.
As a Christian, and worse as an aspiring full-time pastor, this can be difficult. Sometimes I wonder if God really has called me to this, and as I think He has, I sometimes wonder if He’s been cruel in the decision. After all, I do still care about hurting people, and rejection is still lonely, (I’m awkward, not unemotional). Yet God’s Word helps me in a couple of ways here:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Here I understand that God’s call is for me to seek Him and to follow His ways, even though they can be hard to understand. As people find it difficult to interpret me, often God has the same experience, because His ways are not like our ways. God has me going through feelings He Himself knows well. While people misunderstand Him because He is so much more profound than us, and mine is only because I lack many of the skills of social understanding, the result is the same.
Moreover, since God is sovereign over all things (and He has profound reasons for all He does), He is working glorious things in me, even through my weaknesses. In Him, I have friends and acceptance (most clearly, the friendship and acceptance of God in Jesus Christ), not because I’m a charismatic person, but because of Christ. God displays His goodness here to me, and I am able to rejoice (albeit awkwardly) in the friends I’m given, because I deeply feel how valuable they are. Even better, while I lack the ability to see what’s appropriate, I end up with less fear of rejection over telling people about Jesus. While I may apologize more than I need to (a nervous tick I have, since I really don’t know by your body language if I’m saying something that offends you), I will still say things as I see them (for ill, but also for good).
The simple fact is that God made me awkward for reasons, and His reasons are always good. I do have things I need to work on, but even weaknesses are used for God’s glory. As my favourite verses say:
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.